Thursday, January 1, 2009

What has been done so far to stop sharks from becoming soup?

There have been some great campaigns overseas about spreading the message to those who consume or sell of shark fin soup and to make the public aware about the inhumane practice of shark finning.

Here are a few good examples:

1. A wedding card
This is the best time to educate old and young about how this traditional cuisine is sourced from unsustainable fishing practices. This card produced by WildAid is for display at a wedding table alongside the banquet menu.

2. Documentaries/Movies
Videos show how this barbaric act is played out at sea with many close ups of how damaging killing off sharks species are to the marine ecosystem. The most publicized release across the US last year was SHARKWATER but there are many others.

Sharks: Stewards of the Reef (Documentary)

There are also over 60 videos on YouTube featuring the keywords 'shark finning' - watch and share one today!

3. Use of celebrities to raise awareness
Getting celebrity endorsement usually works well as a form of communication to the public in Western society. However, this has not been the case. When NBA basketballer Yao Ming pledged to 'never eat sharkfin soup again' at a Beijing news conference held by WildAid, it was reported by the International Herald Tribute that The Chinese news media mostly ignored Yao's stance. The official Communist newspaper, The People's Daily.

The below video features director Ang Lee.

Other celebrities in the Chinese community to raise awareness to their motherland include (athletic trainer) Zhou Jihong, (Diver)Li Ting, (PingPonger) Zhang Yining, (Olympian) Li Ning and (Pop Star) Liu Huan.

4. Send an e-Card
I like the tag line for this e-Card 'some issues are just black + white'. Simple click on this image to send this e-card on.

5. High profile restaurants dropping shark fin soup from their menus

2003 - Singapore and Thai Airlines drop shark fin soup from their menus

2005 - Hong Kong Disneyland drops the soup from its wedding banquet menu after repeated protests by environmentalist activists and a petition signed by 600 school children. There is a great email written to the Disney Executives about this controversy available here

In the same year, Hong Kong University also banned the serving of shark fin dishes.

In 2008, the Prestigious Michelin award winning Chinese restaurant 'Hakkasan' in London drops shark fin from the menu, after serving it for the last seven years. Following the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and UK-based charity Bite Back campaign targeting Chinese restaurants in London that still place shark fin products on their menus.

In September, Shangri-La Abu Dahbi removed it from their menus with the hotel group considering removal across its other restaurant menus - I hope this will be worldwide.

Sadly, none of these messages have been promoted in Australia where Chinese restaurants and wedding banquet menus still feature the cuisine.

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